07 Jul 2015

Market Report – July 6, 2015

July 07, 2015


The Fourth of July kicks off the summer grilling season, and what better choice is there than salmon? Retailers are running salmon promotions, showing customers how to plank grill wild Alaska salmon, and holding sidewalk and truckload sales. Whatever your grilling fancy, you will find fresh salmon from Seattle Fish Company at your favorite Colorado grocery store. Prefer to let the experts do the grilling? Colorado restaurants on the Front Range and mountain resorts are ready to accommodate you.

The recent prolonged government strike in Chile is still showing residual effects on the Chilean salmon industry. Fish don’t stop growing during a strike, and the lack of production and some buyer rejection of Chilean Atlantics have created excess supply, keeping prices steady to lower. Logistics are back to normal, so barring any interruptions; steady supply should be available through the summer. Canadian farm-raised salmon is taking a larger role in our salmon mix as volume is adequate, adding diversity to better serve our customers. Wild markets have cut into the European markets as significant unsold volumes of Norwegian salmon have dropped the NOK, lowering domestic prices. New generation Norwegian salmon has dropped the overall market size for the short term. Our Scottish Sea Farms process three container loads weekly and ship them directly to Denver to provide a short duration from farm to table. Large Scottish sizes are also smaller, but farmers are managing to snag some of the bigger fish for our sushi customers. There’s no change in Scottish salmon prices this week.

Another great summer dish is trout, and the biggest and best variety is found at Seattle Fish Company. Idaho trout is trucked to Denver twice a week, dressed, boned and pin-boned in a variety of sizes to fit your menu or in a retail counter. Red-meat trout need is supplemented from our trout friends in Utah. Our Colorado rainbow trout connection, Frontier Trout Farm, grows its trout in Southern Colorado. Its trout raceways are historically part of a larger fish farm now known as Russell State Wildlife Refuge. Water discharge from the farm helps replenish surface water depletion, and downstream flows help cattle ranchers water the stock. It’s truly sustainable, so ask your sales rep for Colorado trout today.


U.S. farm-raised catfish supply has been steady with tight supply on small whole fish. A new crop will be ready to harvest by mid-July with volumes to support large retail ads. Look for catfish ads at very favorable pricing. U.S. catfish is clean, fresh and delicious, so support the U.S. catfish industry.


Wild salmon is running, retail stores are offering ad discounts, and restaurants are taking advantage of kings and sockeyes. Numerous regions of Alaska are open with the bulk of sockeyes this week coming from Barclay Sound. Sockeyes will run strong through July, but cohos from Southeast Alaska are starting to become available. We are at the halfway mark of the Pacific halibut season, with volume and pricing remaining steady and likely to continue through the balance of the season, ending in mid-November. The predominance of smaller fish this season likely portends another quote slice next year, which is unlikely to be reversed until the average halibut size is larger. Pacific halibut still remains a favored American whitefish, and is great for the summer grilling season. The West Coast has been hit by a major record-breaking heat wave, mired in a lingering high pressure system causing high temperatures inland and windy ocean conditions hindering ground fishing.  Species affected are Pacific shallow-water Dover sole, rock, petrale, arrow tooth flounder, perch and especially Pacific cod. Expect the cod price to increase over the next month. King crab supply remains short, especially for the bigger-sized reds. We carry an excellent supply of brown king crab, mirroring meat fill of comparably sized reds. Snow crab is also dramatically reduced. With Japan and China stepping in to gobble up the live crab supply, there appears to be little relief in sight.

Further south, fishing has been good for grouper and white bass, but Mexican bay scallops continue to be tight. Look for more Baja varieties this summer as our special and underutilized menu offering becomes available. Keep an eye out for weekly specials and, as always, ask your Seattle Fish Company fish experts for a full lineup. Shrimp fishing in Southern California and Mexico is over. Seattle Fish Company carries a good supply of Mexican whites and browns – arguably the best around. Globally the shrimp markets remain lethargic despite lower costs. Most major retailers are waiting until the Christmas season shakes out to look at major buys. Asia seems to be waiting for big buys that likely will not come, at least not anytime soon.


East Coast wild bass season opened last week, and large fish with a 24-inch minimum catch allowance are in the house. Prices are coming down; take advantage of this superior whitefish. Fishing is allowed twice a week on Sunday and Thursday. Quota is down this year, but adequate volume should carry us into August. Another striped bass we mention infrequently, but which is extremely popular in our region, is hybrid striped bass grown right here in Southern Colorado. Delivered to our dock less than a day out of the water, Colorado hybrid striped bass is a definite menu favorite. Other East Coast varieties are in good supply with a steady volume of monkfish, dabs and haddock as well as mackerel, bluefish, flounder and skate. Cod remains very tight with the cut in fishing quotas. Our Icelandic cod connection is keeping the cod flow to Seattle Fish Company solid. Scallop landings are up 47% since May, but industry sources say scallop prices are likely the lowest the market will see all year. Scallops coming out of the mid-Atlantic region have shown some spawn and softness, but our scallop fishermen are avoiding affected areas. The lobster season is off to a slow start with very cold water temperatures slowing the new shell season. Combined with worldwide demand, prices have remained firm, increasing weekly.


The extreme Northeast winter wreaked havoc on our hard shell clam business. Wild littlenecks have been a challenge with much of the stock decimated by the frigid winter temperatures. The grow-out period for hard shell clams in the region is 18 to 24 months. We are getting supply at this time, but challenges will exist for the balance of the summer and beyond. Our Prince Edward Island mussel suppliers are avoiding regions of heavy spawn, and our customers are heeding a recommendation to keep their mussels well iced and drained, keeping summer mussel issues to a minimum. Bangs Island mussels still do not have the green light to proceed, but we will let you know when the fishery is once again ready to produce. Oyster sales continue to be strong, and East Coast supply is good with a variety from all regions. A perfect growing region for a farm-raised oyster is 38 degrees north latitude, and we happen to have one of our favorites, 38 Degree North Oysters, back in stock. Sizing is getting better, supply is adequate, and as always, it’s a great oyster at a very reasonable price. Oyster flavor, like a fine wine, is determined by growing region. Drawing from the perfect salinity of Chesapeake Bay, 38 Degree North Oysters add a touch of sweetness. Try some today. As noted in our West Coast section, temperatures have been stifling this summer, prompting numerous closures in Northwest oyster beds. New vibrio rules have enabled governing agencies to close beds when the water temperatures reach a certain level, even without vibrio testing. Combined with summer spawn and the lack of variety in triploid oysters in Oregon and Washington, selection is becoming limited. We are seeing additional choice from our British Columbia vendors, but all these oysters are diploids, susceptible to spawn. As usual, our oyster buyers will provide choice and our oyster sales experts will guide you through the waters.


Weather and currents in the Gulf have skunked many of the tuna fishing boats coming to port in Dulac, Louisiana. We received a yellowfin tuna shipment yesterday, with more boats scheduled later in the week. The full moon, end of mahi season in Central and South America, and new hook restrictions keep availability limited and prices high. Try California yellowtail for a quality, reasonably priced substitute. We do carry a very nice frozen mahi side. Another choice is corvina – usually plentiful, great for grilling and baking, and a summer favorite for fish tacos. Swordfish has tightened somewhat this week, with some offers from Central America for fish with softer texture and darker bloodlines due to handling methods. Just as hand line tuna producing lactic acid and rainbow due to line struggles, sword fighting lines produce a less than desired result. Most of our tuna and swordfish come from longline boats. The Canadian swordfish season is starting to heat up with harpoon swordfish available at the end of July. Gulf Wild grouper boats in Florida have seen limited catch, with the Galveston red snapper boys having somewhat better success.


Big walleye are the fish du jour from the Great Lakes, producing large walleye fillets. We have been trying to fill our frozen coffers for some time, but smaller-sized fish have not been available for freezing. As the water temperatures heat up and fish dive deeper, fishermen will hopefully be able to target frozen market-sized walleye. Other Great Lakes selections are whitefish, limited lake perch and pike.


Hawaiian swordfish has been short lately, but other auction numbers are good. Local tourist demand during the summer months has kept most prices high with bidders vying for the best fish from the daily auction. Our buyers on the auction floor apprise us of daily average prices, and we give them a buying wish list so they can go row by row, species by species, buying our daily catch. Hawaiian opah has been a recent favorite as well as blue marlin.   Tuna, monchong and walu (escolar) were also on the menu last week. Steady demand for Hawaiian Kampachi keeps this favored sushi-quality fish coming in weekly. The average size has grown to the four-pound range. Seared Kampachi is a resort customer favorite.

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Harry Mahlers

Harry Mahleres
Director of Purchasing

303-329-9595 ext. 121